David Ruffley MP to Tour West Suffolk College and Discuss Funding

Friday, 28 January, 2011

David Ruffley MP to Tour West Suffolk College and Discuss Funding

David Ruffley MP will visit West Suffolk College on 28 January to speak to staff and pupils. The College, based in Bury St Edmunds, but with venues across Suffolk, provides full-, part-time and adult education as well as apprenticeships and training. It has a student body 15,558 strong, 480 staff and a turnover of £27 million- it is regularly placed within the top 5% of colleges in the country.

Mr Ruffley said: 'I believe that educational opportunities should be available to all and should not stop at school leaving age. I welcome the work that Further Education institutions do in educating students to the next level. Ensuring young people have a high skill base is crucial if the UK is to maintain its competitive edge.

In its recent Young People's Learning Agency funding statement for 16-19 year olds the Government set out its commitment to providing effective support for young people. The Government will be providing funding for a record number of young people in learning, on average some 1.64 million each year. The budget for teaching and learning for young people will be increased in 2011-12 to £7.612 billion.

The Government has pledged to fund an increase in educational places for 16 to 19 year olds, and is raising the compulsory participation age to 18 by the end of the Parliament. The Government also intends to increase the £26 million budget of Discretionary Learner Support Funds so that schools, colleges and training providers can better help students aged 16 to 18 who are experiencing financial difficulty.'

Mr Ruffley added: 'I am also a strong believer in the value of adult education and lifelong learning. The benefits of education must be available to all, regardless of age.

The Government has pledged to continue supporting basic skills provision to ensure individuals are given the chance to gain basic numeracy and literacy skills. Moreover, spending on adult community learning will be protected and reformed. To support adult learning, colleges will be freed from bureaucracy by simplifying the funding system, streamlining Arms Length Bodies and abolishing central targets. This is aimed at ensuring colleges have the freedoms to provide course that support local communities and potential Further Education students.

The Government's skills strategy, Skills for Sustainable Growth, centres on providing apprenticeships. Spending on adult apprenticeships will be boosted by up to £250 million a year by 2014-15 to provide an extra 75,000 places. Indeed, £150 million has been invested in providing 50,000 new apprenticeships this year.'